Men’s hockey pre-game report: Minnesota vs. Wisconsin

Max Sanders

After last night’s 4-2 loss, Minnesota will look to avoid its first sweep in Wisconsin in ten years.

The Badgers wasted little time getting on the board Friday night, scoring 24 seconds into the first period. Minnesota battled back to tie the game early in the second, but Wisconsin answered with two second-period goals, giving them a comfortable lead they would not relinquish.

Last night the toll of Minnesota’s injuries were on full display. The first series after the announcement senior Jay Barriball would miss the remainder of the regular season with a knee injury, sophomore Nico Sacchetti filled in on the first line. Sacchetti had a chance to tie the game late in the second, but was unable to put a second put-back through a relatively open net, instead firing high missing the net completely.

On the defensive end, another Gophers injury left the team with a sizeable void it did not fill. Freshman Nick Leddy had been a fixture on the front defensive line with David Fischer, but after breaking his jaw and missing six weeks Aaron Ness filled in. The defensive play last night was extremely sloppy, most notably in the second period when they allowed Wisconsin’s Cody Goloubef to skate untouched in front of the net, firing a backhander past a helpless Kangas.

The Badgers, behind two goals from senior Blake Geoffrion, are heading into tonight’s game looking for their first home sweep of the Gophers since the 1999-2000 season. Fellow senior Ben Street closed out any chance of a Minnesota rally with a diving shot off a pass from Michael Davies, icing the game at 4-2 late in the third.

Despite Minnesota’s struggles early on, the Gophers find themselves right in the thick of an extremely compact Western Collegiate Hockey Association conference. With last night’s loss Minnesota is tied with Wisconsin and St. Cloud State at No. 5 in conference with five points. Those schools are all chasing No. 1 Denver, who sits in first with nine points.

Minnesota First Line:

Left Wing-Mike Hoeffel

Center-Jordan Schroeder

Right Wing-Nico Sacchetti

Despite missing a relatively easy put-back, Sacchetti filled in admirably for the injured Barriball, and after consistantly making changes following each of the North Dakota and Denver games, head coach Don Lucia has kept most of his roster intact for tonight’s game.

Defensive First Line:

Left-Aaron Ness

Right-David Fischer

No change here, as Ness has been called on to play the first line while Leddy recovers from his injury.

A notable change on the defensive front is Sam Lofquist. The sophomore, who has already missed three games due to injury is not in tonight’s lineup. He did not appear to get hurt in last night’s game, and was seen post-game looking fine heading onto the bus. The apparent benching opens a spot for senior Brian Schack, who will play in his first game of the season.

Goalie:

Alex Kangas

While Lucia has alternated goalie’s in two of the three series up to this point, he is sticking with Kangas for consecutive starts for consecutive weekends. Kangas did allow a routine shot past in the second period giving Wisconsin a critical third goal, but otherwise performed admirably, especially in the third period when he stopped shot-after-shot despite relatively little defensive help. Kangas may have earned back-to-back starts after his stellar play last weekend against Alaska Anchorage, but he needs an equally stout night tonight to keep his grip on the No. 1 spot.

 

Wisconsin First Line:

Left-Any Bohmbach

Center-Blake Geoffrion

Right-Craig Smith

Head coach Mike Eaves finds no need to alternate his first line after a two-goal effort by Geoffrion and solid play throughout the lineup.

 

Defensive First Line:

Left-Brendan Smith

Right-John Ramage

Goalie:

Brett Bennett

Last night’s scores in other WCHA Action:

Denver 3, Alaska Anchorage 2

North Dakota 4, Michigan Tech 2

Minnesota Duluth 4, Colorado College 3

All teams Friday will play again tonight, and scores will be updated as games progress.